After years of rising costs and delays, the Navy’s carrier version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is expected to reach initial operational capacity in 2018.

It achieved another milestone in early 2017, when F-35Cs arrived at Naval Air Station LeMoore in California, the Navy’s first Joint Strike Fighter base.

The F-35C’s arrival will come after the Joint Strike Fighter was successfully trapped and launched aboard the carrier Abraham Lincoln in September.

While the first F-35C squadron is not expected to deploy until 2021, the initial operating capability expected next year will serve as a proving ground and demonstration of the jet’s capabilities.

The F-35C is expected to not only offer upgrades in stealth and strike capability, but its technology will also allow it to serve as a hub for information distribution among other, older aircraft in the sky, according to the Navy.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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